C19 25.2.21

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Leadership for a bright 2021

Last year leadership styles were put under the microscope as world leaders battled the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. Leadership styles and the differing focus on priorities were on display, as leaders sought to balance competing needs. There was a leader who captured the world's attention demonstrating empathy, kindness and "love on full display"1. How leaders responded to the threat has shaped the outcomes. Once again, leaders and their people in Victoria have had a difficult week. We've heard how the snap lockdown affected leaders and their people, personally as well as professionally.  What can we learn from how they have faced the challenge using their strength and resilience?

For us at AccessEAP and from what we have seen in our data, a leadership style that prioritises people's wellbeing, supports their performance and helps people and organisations thrive has been instrumental in helping people, teams and organisations rise to the challenge of constant change.

We've created new tools which highlight key leadership traits that have helped us throughout the pandemic and beyond as well as address what our people should expect from us as leaders. There is a dual responsibility to recognise and nurture to get the most from these relationships. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. Reach out to here at AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

 

[1] https://info.accesseap.com.au/e/872921/ics-jacinda-ardern-leadership-/4y6gv/165849879?h=3nKlTTbLC431Z9zOpMcMxV7bCY7TAwxY-SfFmXy777o

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C19 19.2.21

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Education organisations poised to provide mental health support to parent teachers

Published in Education Today 15th February 2021

As most educators are aware, mental health conditions can have long term, direct and indirect effects on a child’s development including impacts on social skills, the ability to absorb information and their enthusiasm for learning. This makes it vitally important that parents know all of their options for assistance.

So, what help is there for teachers who are experiencing childhood mental health issues in the home and what can they do? Most organisations will have an Employee Assistance Program in place and teachers can confidentially access this support for themselves and family members.

Marcela Slepica AccessEAP Director, Clinical Services.

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Self-care through changing workspaces - a message from Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP

In the face of the changes we all went through last year, now is a good time to reflect on how our workplaces and activities will change. What will this mean to leaders of organisations as we optimise our work environments? This month I look at two related concepts: big-picture, structural changes to our workplaces; and how we respond quickly to ensure that our best assets – our teams – are supported.

Managers have always looked at how they can improve productivity, support customers and engage with employees to deliver on goals.  Previously this might have looked at maximising resources like the real estate where offices are located. Hot desking was loved by management but not embraced by employees. Concepts of touch-free, physical distanced workspaces, rosters which stagger staffing levels and even downsizing office space are being discussed at companies and departments, and these changes will make their presence felt over coming months. For those who have remained at their workplaces, managers have had to adapt to ongoing changing/fluctuating restrictions and help their employees through these changes.

The concepts of physical and mental health overlap significantly. When employees feel that their physical environment is safe, their job is safe; then it is easier for them to feel emotionally safe and remain productive. While we can’t guarantee how safe anyone’s employment is, we can provide a calm, caring presence for our employees, and encourage them to take steps to look after themselves within the workplace and at home.

Encouraging (and role-modelling!) self-care is not only a kind and ethical approach to leading our people. It increases self-esteem and productivity by giving employees a sense of autonomy and control, and the effects carry across to home life.

Working hard is admirable – and setting a realistic boundary is as well. As the economy and the collective soul of the country recovers, I’m aiming for balancing constructive work with exercise, closing the laptop at a decent hour, and connecting with family and friends. At AccessEAP, these are discussions that leaders frequently have with their teams: our KPI discussions now include talking about mental health and wellbeing as well as outcomes and results.

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Keeping Constructive

The pandemic has forced us to look more closely at the way we work particularly in terms of team and people interactions and dynamics. The way that our teams function is crucial to our workplace culture and productivity. If your organisation adopts an approach of creating teams based on aptitude, skills and diversity it can create endless potential but also a natural breeding ground for differences in approach and opinions, and if this isn’t acknowledged, it could lead to potential conflict. 

From time to time we all encounter situations where we dislike a person’s behaviour and we feel we need to say something. It may be that your job requires you to have these conversations with people on a regular basis. A common myth is that raising the issue might make things worse, however, a carefully constructed conversation might save things from getting worse.

Constructive Conversations Training

To arrange a training session for your organisation, please speak to your Relationship Manager.

Here are some tips for initiating a potentially difficult conversation:

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Are you a good listener?

Communication has been a major theme over the past year and indeed every year for us at AccessEAP. Our Wellbeing in Focus Calendar dedicates a month and often a quarter to the theme each year. Anything on courageous, difficult or constructive conversations is very well received, and the feedback we get from our customers is that you are looking for more. A major part of communication is listening. We spend a lot of time talking about listening, and how important it is to demonstrate active listening, how important it is to “be heard”. Listening is a crucial part of what happens when you ask “R U OK?” or invest in diversity in your teams. Being present, having empathy and risking missing out by putting down your phone and giving someone your undivided attention, is easier said than done. Yet it is fundamental in gaining understanding, having meaningful conversations and establishing or nurturing connection. It is a skill that few truly do well, but when we find a good listener, they are often a very valuable person in our lives.

If we are good listeners, how do we do it? If we are poor listeners, how do we improve? If we are somewhere in between, can we do better?

Listening is so much more than just hearing, or waiting your turn to speak (without interrupting), it is an active skill and as a leader, you become highly attuned to your people and where they are at. Practice active listening by paying attention, asking questions and taking in behaviours as well as what is being said out loud.

Our Leader Tool focuses on ways to improve your listening skills and why its such an essential part of being a good leader. Our Personal Tool covers good listening skills and how listening skills can help parents. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. Reach out to here at AccessEAP. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

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C19 11.2.21

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Reset and commit to 2021

The beginning of the year may have felt a little different this year. By now, most of your people are back in their workspaces and in the swing of things. We have encouraged our people and teams to take some time to reflect on the year that was and the year ahead, and do the thinking and planning that can sometimes be hard to find in the day to day rush of work. It can be hard to feel confident in a plan that is so susceptible to what’s happening around us in the pandemic. As a leader, how can you help your people and teams be nimble, agile, flexible, resilient and able to pivot through change in a way that fosters mental health and wellbeing?

We're turning our spotlight to continuing and committing to good wellbeing habits throughout the year. By now, many of those new year’s resolutions that have been made have already been discarded. We’ve put together some tips on how to reconnect with and ensure work and personal intentions can become good habits.

We already started (or continued) conversations about what our people want to focus on or achieve this year. We’ve encouraged taking the time to stop, pause, think, ask the right questions before doing the doing. It’s a practice that can help restore or support mental balance when things feel frenetic or out of our control. What it looks like for each person, or each team can differ greatly. As a leader, be mindful you work for your people, help them fulfil their aspirations, find what motivates them and so you can help focus on the things that matter to them.

We've created tools that focus on strategies that you could already be kicking goals with, just starting to talk about, or there may be ones that need a complete overhaul.  Whatever is the case, starting the year with a clear idea of where you want to go will help to set you and your people up for success. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. Reach out to here at AccessEAP. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

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C19 - 4.2.21

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Positive start to the school year

Being our best in life and work can be thrilling, exciting and also at times incredibly challenging. Those of your people who have or care for children will have experienced a different side of the pandemic and witnessed the impact it had on kids and teenagers. An important part of any employee experience is how their organisation recognises and supports their family responsibilities outside of the workplace. We saw for the first-time large scale online learning in our schools, with many parents and carers adding a new role as teacher in the home.

Our clinical team, and more broadly mental health experts of all types, predict that we will be dealing with the mental health and wellbeing impacts on children and teenagers for years to come with anxiety as a leading issue impacting kids. It's important to state upfront that kid and teen mental health is best approached through a system or network of support. This includes clinicians, parents, schools and support organisations. Your organisation, and how you support your people, can play a positive role to support your people and their children's and teen's mental health. 

We've created new tools that address how leaders can better support those people in their teams and organisations with kids and teenagers and for those with kids and teens some tips on supporting their mental health and wellbeing. EAP is a great way to truly support your people to be their best in life and work, and help you bring your employee experience to life. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. Reach out to here at AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

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How Project Managers Can Prevent — or Cause — Employee Burnout

Published in The Uncommon League 19th January 2021

Burnout has often been associated with caring professions (such as nurses) and first responders (such as firefighters), says Marcela Slepica, clinical services director at employee assistance program AccessEAP. But it certainly isn't restricted to jobs that involve saving lives.

Any environment can become a burnout incubator. And often, managers play a role in creating the perfect setting for employee stress.

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The G.L.A.D. Technique

One of our internal Wellbeing Initiatives is the G.L.A.D. challenge. An opportunity to do something for each other to actively recognise how much time we spend at work and with our colleagues. Using an adapted version of Donald Altman’s G.L.A.D. technique from The Mindfulness Toolbox, we ask everyone to participate and write a G.L.A.D message for their assigned colleague.

How does it work?

  • You will need a list of names for those that are participating. This can be an organisation wide initiative or just a team activity depending on the size of your organisation.
  • Allocate everyone a person; this can be random or just split into pairs.
  • Email everyone their designated person with instructions asking them to fill in the G.L.A.D. message. Whether they pick one letter or all of them.

Grateful- One thing you are grateful for

Learned- One thing the person has taught you

Appreciate-One thing that you appreciate about this person

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Emotions at Work

Workplace culture has changed since the days where people started work, did what the manager told them to do and 'logged off". Today, workplaces need to engage and motivate their employees by understanding what employees need from their work. We know employees want to grow, want to be valued, involved, and to feel part of the organisation.

Each generation may have differing needs and not factoring in employees’ values, needs and expectations leads to strong emotions at work which can lead to decreased productivity. Engagement is key to a mentally healthy and productive workplace culture – organisations need emotionally intelligent leaders who know how to respond in a way that facilitates positive workplace behaviour.

What do we unwittingly do that creates negative/positive emotion?

Insight and awareness around the impact of behaviour on others is a skill that can be learned and developed – paying attention to body language and others’ reactions is key. It’s important that you choose your moment to seek feedback or deliver information.

Are negative emotions in the workplace bad?

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Financial Check-Up

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has had a wide-ranging impact on all of us. We know that one thing that Australians often worry about is their financial situation. Many of us may experience financial stress as a result of physical distancing requirements and the impact this has had on employers and jobs. It is perfectly normal to worry about our financial situation, even in the best of times, as we try and provide a good life for ourselves and our loved ones. With so much uncertainty across a number of industries and employers, and if our partners or loved ones have lost their jobs, financial related stress may be a key concern for many.

Employers can play a role in helping their employees cope with financial related stress by recognising the impact it can have on different groups in the workplace. It is important to recognise that there are many varied reasons for financial stress. For example, our aging workforce is facing many challenges, including their fear of entering retirement, paying for their children’s higher education and moving their parents into nursing homes. On the other hand, millennials are facing economic instability, crushing student debt, stagnant wages and looming uncertainty about the future.

How individual employees handle financial stress varies greatly. Employers should aim to reduce the impact that this type of stress can have at work in the form of presenteeism. Breaking down and understanding the underlying issues can be the key to helping employees become more resilient.

Here are some basic tips on reducing finance-related stress:

1) Learn to budget: If your financial situation is causing you stress, it’s vital to create a budget. Record all income and expenditure and know exactly what you spend on non-essential items. Be critical of what you are spending and cut down on any unessential items if necessary.

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C19 28.01.21

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Reflecting on 2020 - a message from Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP

We endured 2020, and many of us learnt something about ourselves and the resilience of human nature. It had tough and challenging moments – as well as some really poignant times when we embraced a "we're in this together" mentality. While looking back at how hard it was, it is just as important to reflect on the learnings, the wins and the positives of 2020.

I am amazed and proud of my team's resilience and of all people in the organisations we work with, especially those in essential services, hospitals, health care, aged care, transport and retail, who continued to show up and provide support, care and services. For those of us who worked from home, spare rooms and dining tables became impromptu office spaces. New processes and new ways of working came along, and we changed our thinking about the way we do things, focusing on our safety, health and wellbeing. From looking out for each other and loved ones to time spent on walks or exercising instead of the daily commute, the one constant was uncertainty and change. Each of us were challenged to think about how do we thrive during these times. For leaders, we were challenged and experienced the responsibility of looking after our people's wellbeing whilst balancing the needs of our businesses.

Being at the helm of AccessEAP means being close to the emotional pulse of the country. I aim to look outwards on behalf of our organisations and their people and see what matters are relevant and important on many levels; local, national and international – and also to look inwards to see how my teams are managing and what they need to thrive. What transpired for us were record numbers of managers and employees reaching out for support. This highlighted and reinforced how mental health support and a focus on wellbeing is an integral part of running a business and is increasingly a priority in any organisation's strategy for the future.  

My role here has given me an amazing insight into how adaptable people can be. Change is a challenging concept for people and companies. The uncertainty can induce a lot of stress. In the face of the biggest changes that we have faced in generations, staff have shown flexibility, and managers have shown compassion and incredible kindness. AccessEAP will work with you as we face similar or new challenges in 2021 whether that includes a transition to the office or to a new normal (whatever that may look like) for your people, through individual support, coaching for managers and people leaders, and learning and development opportunities for teams.

We have seen ordinary Australians show what extraordinary things they can do when called upon. This gives me great hope about how quickly we will recover and move forward to thrive with whatever 2021 brings. We must acknowledge the individual losses of friends, family, work and mental health. But as a community, we will come back and support each other and those bonds will make the recovery faster.

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AccessMyEAP - Wellbeing Tracker

 

Track your Wellbeing with AccessMyEAP

We’re making it easy for you to access your own EAP and wellbeing services with our intuitive and dynamic app. Download free via Google Play and the App Store

  • Put yourself in control of your mental health and wellbeing.
  • Make a booking to speak with one of our counsellors.
  • Read tips, strategies and new ways to support your mental health and wellbeing journey.
  • Choose your own wellbeing tools and resources based on your preferences, goals and interests.
  • Take your Wellbeing Check regularly. The questions are based on the positive psychology PERMAH model. 
  • Monitor your results with your personal Wellbeing Tracker.

This free service is provided to you by your employer as part of your EAP services. 

We’re here to help you be your best at life and work. Get started today. 

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Realistic Resolutions

We've reached 2021 and with that, another year of expectations and resolutions for the year ahead. Chances are, at some time in your life, you've made New Year Resolutions and then broken them only to repeat the cycle the following year. It is common for people to get caught up in a pattern of resolving to make important changes across life and then not following through. This year, keeping these few simple tips in mind may help to increase your chances of success.

Pick Realistic Goals

The surest way to fall short of your new year’s resolution is to set your goals too high. Remember to keep your goals realistic, small and achievable.

Define Those Goals

A common pitfall for people is that they are too vague about what they want to achieve. Spending time developing a specific, concrete action plan with the details of each small step will help increase your chances of success.

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6 easy steps to help you end feelings of isolation

Published in Kochie's Business Builders 20th December 2020

How to take care of yourself and harness positive psychology.

"When there is a shared sense of purpose in the workplace, people tend to feel more satisfied with what they are working towards. Business leaders should consistently communicate to their team about their role within the organisation and how it contributes to the vision and mission of the business, providing a sense of meaning to the work they do." Marcela Slepica, AccessEAP Director, Clinical Services. 

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AccessEAP acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we work on and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples using this content are advised that it may contain images, names or voices of people who have passed away
.

indig_flags.jpg

AccessEAP acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we work on and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples using this content are advised that it may contain images, names or voices of people who have passed away.